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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Vital records provide critical community service

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Anyone who has come through the lobby of the Hasbrook Building, 3838 N. Rural St., has seen the large number of people coming and going from the health department’s vital records unit. More than 20 staff members provide a variety of essential services to the community.

Vital records serves more than 2,800 walk-in customers each month. Add to that the more than 1,700 requests that come via the mail, and this is one busy department. The use of technology and an on-going commitment to customer service has reduced waiting times from more than 45 minutes to about 10 minutes. The incorporation of technology and a streamlining of workflow have created more time for one-on-one, personalized service.

And while best known for providing certified copies of birth and death certificates, the department also is the county repository for birth and death records dating back to 1872. Birth and death information are in constant demand for research, grant applications, public health programs and policy planning and a variety of other needs. With real-time record keeping, the turnaround time for data requests has decreased from two weeks to 24 hours.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the record keeping, the data management and the customer service provided by the vital records staff. The name says it all; what they do on behalf of the health department is definitely vital,” said Dr. Virginia A. Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department.

Marion County is using Indiana’s centralized birth registration system. The system allows hospitals to input birth data into a central system, send the information to the county of birth and allow that county to file the information. Centralized data eliminates the potential loss of data, allows smaller health departments to move into new technology more efficiently and propels the state closer to meeting federal standards.

Each day the vital records staff confronts unique requests and individual circumstances that pose significant challenges. “Because this is a breeder document giving access to other identification and government documents, we must protect the integrity of the birth record by using reasonable assurance to assure we are giving these documents to the right people,” said Julie Bishop, administrator for Vital Records.

Local radio program going strong

Every Saturday morning, from 10-11 a.m., the Marion County Public Health Department-sponsored WTLC-AM (1430) Medically Speaking program shares insightful, educational and interesting information on a variety of health-related topics. During the last two Saturdays of each month, Medically Speaking highlights the programs, partnership and people associated with the health department. The programs, hosted by Dr. Leonard Scott, encourage listener call-ins. Recent topics have included information on healthy snacking, radon awareness and the Healthy Start program.

Join the Marion County Public Health Department for Medically Speaking Saturday morning on WTLC-AM (1430).

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